Holy Cross College graduating seniors and alum held a prayerful vigil outside the Naval ROTC commissioning ceremony on Friday, May 27, 2005 prior to the college's commencement ceremony. The group, Holy Cross Military Free, is comprised of student members of Pax Christ at Holy Cross and alum. Friday's, vigil was part of ongoing efforts by the group challenging the presence of ROTC at Holy Cross.
STATEMENT OF GRADUATING SENIORS
May 26, 2005
Michael McFarland, S.J.
Office of the President College of the Holy Cross
Dear Father McFarland,
Tomorrow, on the morning of our commencement, we will participate in a vigil outside the NROTC commissioning. We will pray for the removal of ROTC at Holy Cross and the safety of the newly commissioned officers. We have written this letter to explain our participation in this witness. We say no to violence in all of its forms. We say no to violence from the Left, and we say no to violence from the Right.
As people of faith, we believe the Gospel commits us to a life of love and active nonviolence in the spirit of Jesus Christ. His love calls us to love unconditionally, friend and enemy alike, without discrimination.
The presence of the military on this campus disturbs us. ROTC is a violent institution and particularly inconsistent with the teachings and practices of Jesus Christ and his gospel. And in the spirit of our Jesuit tradition we call for the College to develop alternative means for participation in our community.
Students should not have to enter the military so that they can enter the College of the Holy Cross. It is the education we have been privileged to receive here at Holy Cross that compels us to be present at the College’s celebration of ROTC.
Over the past four years, we have been instilled with a responsibility to bear active witness to the Gospel in a spirit of peace and compassion. We recognize this is a very meaningful ceremony for our fellow students and their families, and we understand that our action will upset many in our community.
We regret this, and would rather not be out there. However, after much prayer and thought, we feel called to witness the gospel in this way. We do not apologize for this action, but hope it is received in the spirit in which we perform it: one of prayerful openness.
We pray for the safety of the commissioned NROTC cadets as they enter a dangerous world filled with moral uncertainty. We pray for them and their families. And we pray for an end to the wars which claim the lives of military personnel and civilians around the world.
While we continue to call and pray for the removal of ROTC, we encourage all members of this community to reflect on this issue. On this day of celebration and contemplation, we will bear witness to the nonviolent Christ and the tradition of Catholic peacemaking by voicing our opposition to ROTC at Holy Cross.
Molly Bobek, Francesca Errante, Christopher Kane, Adam Musser
As Maria has noted, when she looks at her own students, she doesn't see the apathy that the mainstream press feels is the public reaction to the war. That's an important statement -- one providing more leadership than we see in Congress (my opinion).
From Anne Miller's "Six peace activists arrested at Sen. Gregg's offices" (New Hampshire Indymedia):
On Thursday, June 2, six peace activists did a sit-in and were arrested in Senator Gregg's Concord office. The group was making a fourth request for a public meeting to discuss U.S. policy and an exit strategy from Iraq.
The effort began April 12th, with a letter hand-delivered to his Washington office with hundreds of constituent signatures. Senator Gregg replied that he could not meet with the public in May. Senator Gregg has ignored two additional written requests despite almost daily visits to his office.
The group asks, "What does Senator Gregg fear, that he's willing to put NH's sons and daughters in a position to kill and be killed, and willing to spend nearly $1 billion of NH's federal tax dollars on Iraq, but won't meet with the public to discuss his reasons and hear the public's concerns?"
Fourteen New Hampshire residents carrying a large EXIT sign sat in Senator Gregg's office reading two lists of names: those of the now 1667 U.S. service people and the more than 100,000 Iraqi civilians killed since our March 2003 invasion.
NHPA Director Anne Miller read Senator Gregg's staff the fourth letter requesting a public meeting. Sidewalk demonstrators leafletted and displayed banners calling for supporting our troops by bringing them home alive now.
Mary Lee Sargent of Bow, one of those arrested, says, "In his only response to our four requests, Senator Gregg stated that the war on Iraq promotes democracy. It is ironic that in his own state he has arrogantly turned his back on one of the fundamentals of a healthy democracy - open discussion with concerned citizens about vital public issues. There's no more important issue in our country than a war costing thousands of lives and billions of dollars while making the world less safe and free."
A May 18th Harris Poll reports 61% of Americans disapprove of the Bush administration's handling of the war on Iraq. One of those arrested for trespass for not leaving the office willingly at 5:00, Lynn Chong of Sanbornton, says, "It's time for our NH Senator to represent the moderate opinion in our state, an opinion increasingly critical of this never-ending and mismanaged war."
From Democracy Now!'s Headlines today, we'll note:
US Soldiers Killed in Iraq and Afghanistan
Iraqi rebel forces killed 4 [four] U.S. soldiers in separate incidents yesterday. In Afghanistan, Taliban forces claimed responsibility for killing two U.S. soldiers and wounding eight. The attack, using mortars to fire on a grounded helicopter, was the first of its kind in three years.
Recruiting Goals Not Met
Recruiting Goals Not Met
This comes as the U.S. military fell short in its recruiting goals for the fourth month in a row. The Army lowered is recruiting target for May but still came up 25 [twenty-five] percent short. Meanwhile, the divorce rate among Army officers nearly tripled between 2002 and 2004.
On the topic of Democracy Now!, Lori notes Richard Freeman's "Rochester Democracy Now! Campaign Takes Message to the Streets" (Rochester IMC):
The accompanying photos communicate the latest actions of Metro Justice's year-long campaign to bring Amy Goodman's award winning news program, Democracy Now!, to Rochester via WXXI. Metro Justice organized a demonstration outside of the Strong Museum in anticipation of the arrival of the scheduled speaker, Pat Mitchell, President and CEO of PBS and Norm Silverstein, President and CEO of Rochester’s WXXI.
The demonstrators, those campaigning to bring Democracy Now! to WXXI, began lining up on Chestnut street at about 5:30pm Wednesday afternoon. As they lined up, they unfurled thousands of petition cards written to Silverstein and WXXI board members asking them to give Democracy Now! a try. The demonstrators covered four blocks on the east side of Chestnut Street. As more demonstrators appeared, they continued unfurling the petition cards (affixed to roles of paper) on the opposite side of the street, for several more blocks. The 3000 + cards were the original signed cards demanding that WXXI air Democracy Now!.
The Pat Mitchell speaking event was free and open to the public, but advertised as "limited seating" and those wishing to attend were encouraged to register in advance. As the discussion was about to start, the auditorium was less than 1/4 full, until many of the protesters (including this reporter) were able to get inside, bringing the attendance to well over 3/4 full. Norm Silverstein began the introductions, stating that the purpose of Mitchell's discussion was not to discuss any single program. The goal of the evening was to clarify and discuss the future of PBS, problems they are facing with the Center for Public broadcasting (CPB, the governmental body created by Congress to oversee PBS), and what digital technology can bring to PBS.
After Mitchell's lengthy introductory remarks, the floor was open to questions. The questions were written by audience members in advance. The first few questions dealt with issues surrounding technology. Eventually a question about bringing Democracy Now! to WXXI was read, and Norm Silverstein volunteered to field this one. He began by stating that he knows many present will not like his answer, but the WXXI board still considers Amy Goodman’s show to be "advocacy journalism" which goes against WXXI's programing philosophy. With the anticipated jeers, over half the audience got up and left. This brought on cheers and catcalls from those in the audience who stayed, once again leaving the auditorium, barely 1/4 full.
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